Unlike its closest competitor, Activision, Electronic Arts broke its 2008 bank over original IPs like Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead, instead of the usual sequel-oriented fare. And at first glance, this risky strategy – akin to crawling when you already know how to walk, monetarily speaking – seems to have paid off.
During a conference call held earlier today, EA announced that Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space have roof-run and moon-walked their ways, respectively, to one million sales. Left 4 Dead, meanwhile, managed to pick the brains of 1.8 million retail customers. (Note: EA doesn’t have anything to do with the game’s Steam release, so it couldn’t provide any numbers on that.)
However, this tale of corporations, rebels, and zombies (of both the land and space varieties) doesn’t end happily. In spite of increased revenue, EA called its third quarter fiscal 2009 results “a clear disappointment.” The company posted an overall net loss of $641 million, mostly due to expenses and losses on investments.
Unsurprisingly, after taking such a beating, EA’s bleeding employees. The mega-publisher announced that it will reduce its workforce by 11% and close 12 facilities by the end of March. Roughly 1,100 people will be affected.
Good thing The Sims 3 and Dragon Age are landing soon, though, right? Oh. Never mind.
Looks like the experiment took a few wild swings at Ubisoft’s wallet, because Prince of Persia’s upcoming “Epilogue” DLC will be avoiding the PC altogether – instead giving the game’s story a proper happily-ever-after only on Xbox 360 and PS3.
“Unfortunately for business reasons we won't be seeing any PoP DLC appear. Sorry guys!” Ubisoft’s community manager stated succinctly when speaking of Prince of Persia’s PC iteration.
Epilogue, unlike the bulk of DLC currently on the market, will – as its name implies – actually expand Prince of Persia’s plot, as well as its jungle gym-approved gameplay. Players will face off against a new boss known as The Shapeshifter, who, er, takes the form of two previous bosses, but without being a total cop-out.
In addition, both Elika and the Prince will add a couple new tricks to their racing rapport, and the game’s difficulty is taking off its kid gloves.
In other words: PC gamers are seriously missing out here, and should a direct sequel to Prince of Persia leap the gap that its DLC couldn’t, we might be in for some serious confusion.
In our opinion, no artistic medium offers a better opportunity to express a PC gamer’s individuality and inappropriate sense of humor like a personal decal “spray” projected on your enemy’s spawn room wall during a multiplayer match. While Valve has made it a mostly painless process to import spray images into their Source engine-based games, the difficulty still lies in creating an original image you can be proud to vandalize next to an enemies corpse. And since no game offers more opportunities to grief friends and enemies than Left 4 Dead, we’re going to show you a flawless technique for creating your own ‘writing on the wall’, pun absolutely intended.
Maybe the aliens only hate Microsoft? After the company’s recent red ring around the rosy of ker-splosions, the idea's certainly not implausible. And now, a new player's bumbling onto the stage: the Games for Windows edition of Epic’s Gears of War.
Apparently, the game’s digital certificate walked toward the light on January 28, causing players to receive the following error message: "You cannot run the game with modified executable code. Please reinstall the game."
Microsoft and Epic are, as expected, staying up long past their bedtimes in order to mop up this mess, but have yet to give an ETA for their fix.
“Yes, this was a surprise to us too,” said Epic Games programmer “joeGraf.” “We aren’t casting blame or chewing anyone out. We’re trying to figure out how and why it happened so we can get it fixed.”
For now though, good ol’ Dr. Internet’s prescribed a simple remedy: set your system clock to any date before January 29, 2009.
PC gaming isn’t dead; it’s merely waiting for the day conditions are finally right for its return. Like Jesus! However, it looks like Our Lord and Savior (or incarnation of your particular religion’s greatest evil – you know, whichever) is posting a Craig’s List bulletin searching for a new pal for Friday night card games, because PC gaming’s “return” is nigh.
Finally, someone – in this case, fractiously monikered gaming blog Rock Paper Shotgun – has conducted a semi-official survey of PC gamers’ buying habits. The result? RPS discovered that, of the 2,000 keyboard warriors interrogated, 93% have digitally purchased at least one PC game in the past 12 months, 71% bought more than four games digitally, and, through some flashy mathematics, that 47% of all PC purchases in 2008 were digital.
Assuming that RPS’ findings are more or less accurate, this means NPD’s figures would nearly need to be doubled before hitting the mark.
Uberclok takes a mighty gamble with its Fury PC. Instead of burying Intel’s hot, new Core i7 in the heart of its machine, Überclok reaches for something that’s beginning to show its age: Intel’s midrange Core 2 Quad Q9650. Why didn’t the company go with, say, an Intel Core i7 940, which costs the same as the Q9650? We’re not entirely sure, but Überclok makes the most of its choice.
Despite its age, the chip is no slouch. At its stock 3GHz speed, this quad core would make most people happy, but the new E0-step core used in this chip series is a heckuva overclocker. In fact, Überclok ubers the chip a full gigahertz using simple air cooling, which is quite a feat—although the execution isn’t flawless. The machine completed all of our benchmarks without a hitch, but a Prime95 stress test blue-screened the box within a few minutes. A quick call to Überclok provided the solution we expected to hear: Give her more voltage. Three-tenths of a volt later, the Fury was stable in our stress test.
ATI has just released its Catalyst 9.1 driver package, bringing full OpenGL 3.0 support to the table, a feature which was made available to Nvidia videocard owners for the first time a month ago. While Direct3D has emerged as a front runner for Windows gaming, it should be noted that OpenGL 3.0's features can be enabled on both XP and Vista, and also Linux and Mac OS.
As can be expected are a number of bug fixes with the new driver, but perhaps surprisingly to some, ATI's Catalyst 9.1 shares the love with Linux, an area long considered a weak spot. ATI says the new driver introduces support for Ubuntu 8.10, while also enabling Hybrid CrossFireX. Also in the driver's bag of open-source tricks is MultiView support, which can be enabled using single or multiple GPU configurations.
(*And a conclusion that, I guess, could be considered a fifth thing, but that’d really be reaching.)
Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage is the first drop in an irradiated stream of DLC that Bethesda has planned for its fantastic revamp of the Fallout universe. It sees your wastelander – presumably, by this point, an Iron Man-esque mishmash of cutting-edge weaponry, cold steel, and a 40’s-era radio – stripped right out of his/her tin can and flung (via simulation) into the future’s past that’s still technically our future. Once there, it’s your job to play border patrol for Alaska, keeping China’s Communist government from nabbing Democracy’s swank American job. And make no mistake, son – this is war. But is it a war worth fighting? Well, yes and no. Here’s why.
1. Installing it is like giving birth – Er, not that I’d know what giving birth is like, but I’ve installed Fallout 3: Operation Anchorage, which I’ve heard is a comparable experience. So here’s the rundown: Remember when you feverishly chucked GFW Live into computer limbo because, right after buying Fallout 3, you just wanted to play Fallout 3? Well, that’s actually important now. In order to purchase and subsequently install Operation Anchorage, you must rent out a portion of your precious hard drive to GFW. Then, if you don’t have a GFW or Xbox Live account, you have to snooze your way through some paper work too. Next up, purchasing Microsoft Points. No, your hard-earned dollars are about as worthless as bottle caps here, so you’ll need to have them irreparably mangled into Microsoft Points. After passing Microsoft’s battery of trials (note: I still haven’t said “finally”), you’ll be deemed worthy of downloading Operation Anchorage. Oh goodness, what’s this? Why, has this amount of ridiculous hoop-jumping necessitated a paragraph break – the first in “Five, or Four, or Whatever Things About’s” history?
Jump past the break to, er, find out? Really though, I think the answer's kind of obvious.
Stop the presses! (Ok, maybe not). We wanted to let you know that Best of the Best, our comprehensive list of our favorite PC hardware components, has just been updated and overhauled with new categories and parts that you’ll need to consider for your next PC build or upgrade.
In addition to three new processor categories (Extreme, $500, and $250), we’ve listed our pick for the top Core i7 motherboard. The budget through high-end GPU lineup as also been refreshed, and we now make two hard drive recommendations based on performance and capacity.
Activision Blizzard, aka gaming’s Death Star lurking in a system of Alderaans, is about the only game company to avoid placing hundreds of jobs on the chopping block in order to fuel rapidly waning economic fires, and there’s a reason for that: World of Warcraft.
According to Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, WoW subscriptions likely made up about half of Acti-Blizz’s earnings during its previous fiscal year. This means that World of Warcraft was responsible for earnings per share of around 30 cents out of a total 60 cents. The bottom line for those who don’t follow @thestockmarket on Twitter: Activision Blizzard pulled in $400 million from a four year-old game about orcs, elves, and cow people. Say what you will about Blizzard’s games, but they have some serious staying power.
So then, after all these years, do you still play WoW? You know what? Actually, that’s a dumb question. How about this: why are you still playing WoW, and do you see yourself continuing your genocidal rampage through Azeroth over the next year – even knowing that Blizzard probably won’t release another expansion until 2010?